In February 2023, the State of New Jersey enacted a law that a federal judge described as “novel and landmark legislation aimed at protecting a ‘particularly vulnerable’ workforce from abusive labor practices.” It’s called the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights.
The judge described the Act as “impos[ing] a variety of new requirements on both the companies who hire temporary workers and the staffing agencies who supply them,” such as “certain information disclosures, mandates regarding compensation and benefits, and prohibitions of retaliation and wage diversion.”
The new law is the first of its kind in the United States. Some portions of the law went into effect in May 2023; others take effect on August 5, 2023.
Earlier this month, in the Spring, a trade association supporting staffing companies asked that federal judge to halt the law, claiming it was unlawful and would irreparably harm staffing companies that do business in the Garden State.
One of their arguments was that portions of the law were so vague as to render compliance difficult or damn near impossible. This uncertainty, they argued, chilled companies that would otherwise hire temporary workers from doing so.
Last week, the State of New Jersey tried to ameliorate — big word! — compliance concerns by proposing regulations that fill in some (or all?) of the gaps in the statute.
On Wednesday, that federal judge concluded that the state did a good enough job clarifying the new law and denied the plaintiff’s request for an injunction.
In doing so, the court acknowledges that enforcement of the law could create irreparable harm for staffing companies that do business in New Jersey. (Some advertisement!) But, the court concluded that the law was not, err, unlawful.
Among other things, the court noted that the law treats local temporary staffing companies no worse than out-of-state businesses that operate in NJ. With the new proposed regulations, the law, while still not a model of clarity, isn’t so vague as to be unconstitutional. Finally, the law wasn’t a state power grab. Instead, the state is encouraging more employers to hire permanent workers rather than use temporary ones. (Yes, it will place a considerable strain on staffing companies and their clients.)